Pergola Kits: Outdoor Living Spaces Made Easy

If you are looking to add a pergola to your backyard or outdoor space you may be considering whether or not to build your pergola from scratch or purchase a kit. While someone with solid carpentry skills might have a go at building a pergola with success, the truth is that today’s kits are far better than homebuilt pergolas in terms of convenience, choice, time spent, and even cost. Here’s why:

Pergola kits are suited to being factory made yet are highly customizable, and can include retractable shades, integrated lighting, and fans. You can stick build a simple pergola yourself, but why limit your options when you can get a factory made kit, highly customized to your liking and delivered to your door for not much more in cost. You can actually get the kit for less than you could do it yourself as soon as you step away from the simplest design and add some features like those just mentioned and more, including every detail from curtain material and color and the structural materials involved.

Pergola kits start for as little as $25 per square foot when made from treated pine and can run up to $57 per square foot for maintenance free aerated PVC kits with round columns and arched rafters. The choices make for highly customizable pergola kits, and that’s the best of both worlds for the consumer: Custom selection at standard kit prices.

Let’s talk about those customizable features and how to decide which ones are best for you.

Choose the Pergola Material

The biggest decision to make is the type of material your pergola kit will be made from.  There is a broad range of prices to go along with the broad range of differences between the materials.  The price per square foot below assumes a 12X12 pergola and to keep this comparison clear and simple, a chart is best:


Price /Sq-Ft


 Typical Span

Pressure Treated Pine


Fades over time. Regular maintenance if stained


Shape can twist. Must wait 2 yrs to stain. Chemical safety concerns
Heat Treated Pine


Fades over time. Regular maintenance if stained


Shape stable. Difficult to stain 30 yr no rot performance




Shape stableIt’s metalBeware of low cost kits that have no structural strength
Common Cedar


Fades quickly. Regular maintenance if stained


Shape can twist. Accepts stain. Natural material
Clear Cedar


Fades quickly. Regular maintenance if stained


Shape stable. Accepts stain. Natural and beautiful material
PVC Clad Aluminum




Can have  plastic appearance. Have to be careful mounting things




Difficult to mount other things
Aerated PVC Aluminum Core Composite


Repaint in 25-30 yrs


Just like wood but not wood. Considered the best money can buy
Ensure Installation is Easy and Convenient

Pergolas come in many shapes and sizes but before we go there, the location of a pergola has to be considered. If attached to a home, you have to cover all the fitting details to get it right. Be sure to consider the location of doors, traffic patterns that will be used, clearances relative to eaves or window and door frames… Also consider the location of accessories you may add to your pergola. Retractable canopies, speakers, and lighting are features that may require more clearance or compromise to work with existing features like light sconces.

With these details taken into account, you should avoid a costly mistake. For example, ordering 8’ posts when you need 10’ posts to ensure the pergola and its accessories clear the top of the window frame without hitting a roof overhang.

Choose Your Style among Pergola Types

There are many different ways to make a pergola no matter where you live. They all have ‘posts’ which are also called columns. They all have ‘beams’ which are supported by the posts and are also called stringers or headers depending on where you live. They all have ‘rafters’ which are supported by the ‘beams’ which can also be called joists or purlins. Finally, some but not all have ‘purlins’ which are supported by the ‘rafters’ which can also be called lattice or lathe. That’s enough about terminology, it’s time to consider pergola style options.

A ‘Tuscan’ pergola is typically wood, with square posts, single beams (one beam on top of the posts) or double beams (two beams, one on each side of the posts). The rafters go on top and sometimes purlins go on top of those. This is the simplest and most ubiquitous pergola type.

A ‘Grecian’ pergola is typically wood above the posts, but using round and usually white ‘columns’ with square bases and caps. This style has a very solid and luxurious appearance.

A ‘Modern’ pergola is typically a very simple box frame with minimal features using square posts and often the beams and rafters are at the same level to emphasize the simple appearance.

There are infinite variations on the themes above and your pergola kit maker should have them in their gallery to help you make your favorite pergola style choice.

Make it Your Own with Accessories

Your pergola will be the centerpiece of your outdoor living space. It is under the pergola that you will have your dining or sitting area and it’s where you will be spending the majority of your time outdoors. There are many features to consider for the pergola that can make that experience the most satisfying it can possibly be. Here are a few of them:

Retractable Canopies: Adding this feature can significantly increase the time you spend under the pergola because it provides sun and rain protection that the pergola alone does not. It should be considered in the budget and planning stage as it will have a big impact on the use of the space under your pergola. A retractable pergola canopy adjusts to different times of day and different types of weather, it can do everything from save your furniture from UV to save your tea party from a rainy day. The best pergola kits provide retractable canopies that use unique ShadeFX technology which allows rain water to drain to the side and it stands up extremely well to all the elements.

Curtains: You see them tied back to the posts of pergolas in the design magazines. Pergola curtains add incredible style and practicality to the outdoor living space. They are also available in kits made to perfectly fit your pergola ‘openings’. These are the spaces between the posts and the bottom of the beams to the ground. You can easily define your openings, and get custom curtain kits with outdoor hardware and fabrics to fit your pergola. Be careful to budget for quality. Adapting indoor hardware and fabrics will lead to all the saving you would hope for being lost to UV deterioration in as little as 4 weeks.

Lighting: Dining under the stars is a beautiful experience, but one that can often use the help of some strategically placed lighting. Directed lighting makes for safer enjoyment of an outdoor living space in the dark when walking paths and posts are illuminated. The chandelier over the dining table is one item that should be considered as it may clash with a retractable canopy if that option is added. Many low voltage lighting options exist. Be careful to avoid the electrician that wants to cover your pergola with conduit protected high voltage electrical lighting. It’s not necessary in this day and age of LED lighting, and can destroy the appearance you desire.

Ceiling fans and radiant heaters: Depending on where you live, one of these features will be an important consideration. Make sure the space they occupy does not interfere with other accessories like those noted above. There can be a battle for space in a fully accessorized pergola.  Be sure to set your priorities according to the value of the feature and budget the space accordingly.

Get the Installation Right from the Get Go: Mounting and Assembly

Your pergola has to be anchored to the ground, a deck, or a patio. If it includes a retractable canopy system, the strength of this anchoring is more important due to the wind loads a canopy will add to the pergola. Assembly of the kit is pretty straight forward from the time the posts are set or mounted, but your contractor/installer should be advised well in advance of assembly if there are lots of accessories or features to be added later. This way holes for low voltage wiring, stabilizers for retractable canopies, and cross braces for ceiling fans etcetera can be addressed when the ladders and drills are out.

 Enjoy the Benefits of Your Pergola Investment and Add Value to Your Home

A well-engineered and constructed pergola will add value to even the most impressive home. It’s like adding a new wing to your home creating an outdoor “room” and extending the usable square footage of your home. It’s a feature that makes the Staycation worthwhile. Your outdoor living and entertaining dreams come true when you enjoy the amenities of the indoors like cushioned seating and the comfort of a defined space while feeling the breeze and hearing the birds or surf.

The Case for Pergola Kits Is Made

Whether you hire a contractor for your specific project, have a pergola in a much larger project, or you choose to do it yourself because you like the labor therapy, a pergola kit is the best way to get exactly what you want for many years of satisfying and trouble free enjoyment. The factory built accuracy of cuts, and the engineered fastenings provide you with an easy-to-install and highly attractive architectural feature that adds significant equity to your home and comfort to your life.